OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - During this long and extremely cold winter, many of us are dealing with higher energy bills to heat our homes. Blossman Gas serves 130,000 customers in nine states. Officials said propane usage alone is up 20 percent this year compared to last. So the company is trying to help ease the financial strain for its customers.
Christie Guichard stopped by the Blossman Gas office in Ocean Springs to pay her bill. She said propane is what's keeping her family warm and toasty this winter.
"Mostly we've been using our Blossman Gas fireplace and our heater and lots of blankets," said Guichard. "More gas definitely. Just to try to keep it warmer in the house"
Gas company officials said utility bills are running unusually high right now and they're concerned about customers facing paychecks that don't stretch as far.
"Just without a doubt the record temperatures and sustained cold weather we've experienced has brought on more of a need to use propane for heating homes," said Alex Gresham, Director of Human Development at Blossman Gas.
To give its customers some relief, Blossman Gas recently donated $50,000 to Mississippi's Low Income Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP. The company also donated $50,000 each to similar programs in three other states.
"Our donation to the LIHEAP program is really a way for us to support people in Mississippi. Help families stay warm, safe and meet their energy expenses," said Gresham. "We actually have done the same thing in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. We took the states we felt like really were impacted the most with excessive energy needs at this point."
Officials said the donations are their way of saying thank you to their customers for their business. Blossman Gas offers a custom payment plan that levels out the bill for the entire year. Officials said that protects customers from extremely high spikes in their bills during very harsh cold weather.
Blossman Propane Gas, Appliance & Service also provides some energy saving tips consumers should know during the cold weather season.
-Change your furnace filter monthly. Clean filters will increase efficiency. If on a monthly payment plan, use receipt of your monthly propane bill as a reminder.
-Run washing machines, clothes dryers and dishwashers with a full load.
-Turn down your water heater from the standard 120 degrees to 115 degrees. You could save more than 10 percent on your water heating bill.
-Keep your blinds open to let natural sunlight help heat your home.
-Gather the unused propane cylinders bought for gas grills, mowers, or forklifts. Secure the cylinders in an outdoor storage cage or other protected storage area away from ignition sources.
-Mark your propane tank with a flag, pole, or stake higher than the average snow cover depth for your area. These markers will help you avoid plowing into or shoveling snow on top of your tank.
-Maintain winter access to your outdoor storage tank, keeping a path clear of snow and ice.
-Take advantage of automatic delivery options if available. This allows the propane retailer to efficiently plan a route and keep your tank adequately supplied.
-Increase your water heater's efficiency by draining it every six months to remove mineral deposits and sediment.